It’s crazy to think that I was going to shows (alone, mostly) 5 or more times a month before my life did a 180. There just isn’t much in that scene that has grabbed my attention since I felt in love with Korean music, even though I thought I would be able to maintain both lifestyles. But then Emarosa announced a very small and limited run of super-intimate club shows and I was like, “OK, I’m in.”
Still, it was hard to get back into that “changing clothes and leaving for the show straight from work” groove that used to be my norm! It was a struggle man, especially when we got to the South Side and had a hard time finding a parking spot because there were at least two other shows going on Thursday night.
And it was raining.
And I was tired.
And I was hungry.
The show was at Smiling Moose and I was stoked for that because I love that little spot so much. I feel at home there and not super anxious like some other venues make me feel – like Mr Smalls; I don’t mind that place when Henry is with me but anytime I went alone I felt like I was slowly dying.
This was Chooch’s first time at Smiling Moose, somehow! He’s been to nearly every other venue in the city but this one so I was excited to scratch it off his list (I don’t think he cared either way; he’s 12 and only cares about Fortnite and, thankfully, school).
The show started around 7 with local band Milly who I swear I have seen before but after googling, I think maybe not?! OMG I WAS WRONG ABOUT SOMETHING? I have to be honest here and say that I was kind of in a mood and was sort of prepared to be unimpressed, but these guys proved as usual that I am a prejudiced asshole because they fuckin’ slayed, OK? At least I can admit when I’m wrong!
I saw Chooch pull out his phone and add one of their song names to a Note, so that is like the ultimate seal of approval – an opening band not only holding my kid’s attention, but inspiring him to make a note to check them out at home?! Well done, Milly.
Apparently, they toured with Bradley (Emarosa’s frontman) years ago, before they were Milly and before Bradley was in Emarosa, so that was interesting to know! I like full-circles.
I would definitely go see Milly again. They held my attention and I didn’t drift off into a daydream once, which is surprising because I was really tired that day.
After Milly’s set, I was reminded of the only thing I dislike about the Smiling Moose and that is the super awkward stowing of equipment along the sides of the room. There is no “backstage” so all bands have to load in and out from the front, which means that you’re in the way if you stand in the center of the floor, and then they stack all their shit along the walls near the stage, so you’re in the way if you stand to the side as well. The only place I haven’t been in the way was all the way in the back at the bar and in the bathroom.
SPEAKING OF THE BATHROOM, the last time I was there, I lost a brand new lipstick in there! It fell out of my pocket and I didn’t realize it until I got home and I was sad but at least it wasn’t any of my good Korean lip stuff, just some lame Cover Girl thing probably I think who cares, IT’S OVER NOW.
Oh, did I tell you that Henry wasn’t even with us for Milly? He was at the bar, being a cool boy. But then he encroached on our spot near the stage in between bands and was all cocky because Bradley saw him back there and said hi. Get over yourself, Hank.
The second and final opening band was another local one – Secret Eyes. Immediately, we were annoyed because one of their people, a very nice girl, kept asking us to move because she was setting up some extraneous, gratuitous light fixture on both sides of the stage, and of course one of them needed to be planted exactly where Chooch was standing. We all took a step back, but the guy next to me was unwilling to move so it was tight quarters during the entire soundcheck and set, but thankfully that was cut short due to technical difficulties which prevented one of their guitarists from performing with them so they had to play as a three piece and it really threw them off big-time. I felt bad but at the same time I was like maybe you shouldn’t have worried so much about these dumb lights that aren’t even adding anything special to your set, boys.
I’m not sure if I would have liked them or not, and it was hard to tell based on the version of the band we got that night, but the singer did at times sound like the guy from A Skylit Drive, so I was into that. Until they played a cover of the Weeknd and then they lost me.
We were elated when the girl came back to retrieve those lights afterward, freeing Chooch to dip back into his corner spot. That dummy next to me still wouldn’t move though even though he and his girlfriend had a wealth of space next to them, but whatever. I wasn’t trying to let my inner stodgy old person get the best of me on this night. TIME AND A PLACE, ERIN.
TIME AND A PLACE.
Emarosa came out, no frills, no gimmicks, and proceeded to rip our faces off. The stress almost immediately melted off my shoulders. I had no idea how much emotional weight I had been lugging around, and how much I needed to be there that night. My sanity needed it.
The music is obviously what keeps me coming back for more, after all these years, that long hiatus, lineup changes, and a gradual but progressive change in sound, but what REALLY sets these guys apart for me is the stage presence, the inter-band camaraderie, the fan engagement, and the easy-going humor that shines so naturally in between songs. Bradley could easily stand up there, belt out every song with the sheer perfection that we all know and love, and call it a day. But instead, he treats the audience like we’re in on a joke, like we’re part of a club (#peachclub represent), like we’re actual people and not just faces in a crowd. And he is FUNNY. Like Chris Pratt-funny. Like dad joke-funny.
It’s been a bit over a year since we last saw them, and even longer since they delivered their last album to our eager ears (2016, I believe). But they’ve been hunkered down for the past year, writing the new record, and it’s scheduled to drop this February! In the meantime, they embarked on this super quick run of intimate shows before jumping on another tour to support Hands Like Houses, and Pittsburgh just happened to be the FIRST STOP on this tour. Which means that we were the first ones to get a sneak peek at the new jams! They performed two of them for us that night, and Bradley made us swear we wouldn’t record it.
He told us to just be in the moment, but then laughed and said it was also because they weren’t even sure if these new songs were in final form, lol.
I don’t have anything to share, and I wouldn’t do that to them even if I did, but I can tell you that one of the songs had major Carly Rae Jepsen vibes to it and it fucking slapped. If it’s any indication to how the rest of the album is going to flesh out, then get ready to hear a lot more about Emarosa, you guys. I think they’re not going to be my little secret for much longer.
But I’m ready to share them! They deserve all the exposure.
I love that Bradley was wearing a vintage Michael Jackson shirt and that the two girls in front of the stage were dramatically singing every song to each other and that some guy in the back kept screaming, “YOUR DRUMMER LOOKS LIKE POST MALONE!” and finally Bradley was like, “I KNOW, MY DRUMMER LOOKS LIKE POST MALONE” and that the crowd was just so pure and involved and THERE FOR IT.
I’m awful at remembering set lists, but I looked at the one for the show after ours, and I’m 99% sure it was the same:
- Young Lonely (I love screaming this one)
- *new song*
- People Like Me… (so stoked for an older jam!)
- Cloud 9
- *new song*
- A Hundred Crowns
Afterward, we begged for more and Bradley said they had time to do one more, but everyone had to agree on it, and it had to be something they already played (wtf lol) so of course everyone started screaming their choices, which Bradley narrowed down to “Helpless” and “Cloud 9” but then we all had to agree on one of those and Helpless won so I was so excited!
But then they played Cloud 9 again too! I KNOW THAT SOUNDS DUMB LIKE WOW THEY DID THE SAME SONGS TWICE BUT IT WAS SO FUNNY AND THE ENERGY IN THAT ROOM WAS OFF THE CHARTS!
Oh I felt cleansed.
Afterward, we hung back so that we could say what’s up to Bradley, but he ended up coming over to us on his own and gave us all hugs (I was annoyed that Henry got one too, though, because it made Henry feel like he was special or something lol) and we got to chat with him a bit about Emarosa’s upcoming album, more tours, special surprises — it was just really cool and I was so happy to see them again. It’s always a pleasure and I’m so glad that this went from something that I was into by myself to a band that my whole family loves, as Kumbaya as that sounds (I’m still Satan, so don’t get too excited).
Is it weird to say that I’m proud of them? Because I really am. That band was nearly decimated by their old singer, but they forged ahead and haven’t looked back. They are so much more than the post-hardcore band I first fell in love with ten (!!!) years ago. Long live Emarosa. <3
To conclude, here are some Emarosa videos that I love a lot, in hopes that maybe some stranger out there will too!